Tenured Radical, a blogger I admire, said something in passing
this week a couple of weeks ago that made me think:
But I should think that participation in group blogs that serve a field or a discipline should be taken into account as much as book reviews or encyclopedia entries, which everyone lists in endless, boring detail on their vitae as if they took more than a day to write. [and in the comments, in response to someone who challenged that timeframe] Two days. And seriously, why would they ask you for the entry unless you were an expert in that field?I agree entirely with her main point, but the "one day" or even "two day" timeframe gave me pause. That pause was filled with writing speed envy.
Book reviews--okay, yes, those can be done quickly. Blog posts--nobody drafts those ahead of time, do they? Reports? Piece of cake. I can churn out administrativese at the speed of light.
But encyclopedia articles, even when I know the material, take time (at least at a slowcoach writing speed), which is why I've been turning them down lately. Here's what goes through my head with every single sentence:
1. Is it true? Am I misrepresenting the subject or the text in some way?
2. Is it useful? Is there a better example that I could use?
3. Is it new? Or am I just unconsciously plagiarizing myself or someone else?
4. Does it explain the concept efficiently and (let's hope) gracefully?
5. Does it relate to the sentences around it?
6. Does it hit the right balance of detail to generality?
Most of these questions apply to regular scholarly writing as well, which is why it's possible to wrestle with writing and rewriting a paragraph for an entire four-hour period and still not be entirely satisfied. But it's good to have comparisons of how it could be done if I were more efficient. If I don't speed up, someone's going to remove me from the Peninsular Campaign.